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Health statistics: Getting started

Welcome to the Health Statistics Guide! This guide will provide Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences students with some useful starting points for locating health statistics.

The University Library

Finding statistical information

Although you will need to be aware of different methods of collecting data, you will also need to know how to find relevant and current statistical data to help inform your studies.

The following pages will teach you how to search for statistical data :

Defining terms

If you're unsure about terms that you come across relating to types of statistics, it might be a good idea to consult a dictionary. The UWA Library has a number of dictionaries and encyclopedias:

About statistics

Statistics are not only important to you as a student, they are of considerable importance to the whole community. You will need to be able to search for and use raw data throughout your studies and career. When used effectively, statistics have the ability to significantly empower an argument or decision.

Statistics can be used to :

  • Predict an outcome
  • Test a hypothesis
  • Compare information
  • Provide information in a structured way

 This LibGuide will provide you with information on finding, understanding and using statistics.

Types of statistics

There are a number of different types of statistics:

  • Incidence

         The number of specified new events
         e.g., persons falling ill with a specified disease 

  • Mortality

         An estimate of the proportion of the population that dies during a specified period

  • Survival

         The proportion of the population that is alive at a specific period in time despite the diagnosis of their disease/condition

  • Prevalence

         The number of cases of a disease existing in a given population at a specific period of time (period prevalence)

(all definitions taken from Stedman's Medical Dictionary)

The search terms you use will depend on the type of statistic that you need. You might like to explore the use of subject headings. More information about searching using subject headings is available on the How to Search for Use of Statistics page.

Statistical tests

Data can be measured in a number of different ways. Depending on the type of data being addressed, a number of statistical tests can be used to gather, measure and analyse the information.

Information on different statistical tests can be found at: